Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about to talk about the much anticipated “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark,” the latest adventures of the Gomez, Morticia and Company in the animated “The Addams Family 2” and the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “The Guilty.”
There is no mention of COVID-19 in “The Guilty,” the new Jake Gyllenhaal thriller now streaming on Netflix. But make no mistake, this is a pandemic movie, A remake of 2018 Danish film “Den skyldige,” it is essentially a one hander, shot on a just a handful of set with strict safety protocols in place. Gyllenhaal may be socially distanced from his castmates, but his performance is anything but distant.
Gyllenhaal plays Joe Baylor, an LAPD cop on 911 duty while he awaits a trial for police brutality. As wildfire ravage the city, he’s tied to a phone at the call center, where he makes his displeasure at his new assignment clear to anyone who calls in. Short tempered, he snaps at his co-workers and even berates his callers for their bad choices—“You did drugs!”—before offering assistance.
His attitude changes when he gets a call from Emily (Riley Keough, who does impressive voice work), a mother of two kidnapped by her abusive ex-husband (Peter Sarsgaard). Their conversation sets off a chain of events that causes Baylor to look inward and reassess the choices that led him to the 911 dispatch center.
Played out in real time, “The Guilty” builds tension as Baylor races against a ticking clock to bring the situation to a safe resolution for Emily. Director Antoine Fuqua amps up the sense of urgency, keeping his camera focused on Gyllenhaal’s feverish performance. The close-ups create a sense of claustrophobia, visually telegraphing Baylor’s feeling of helplessness and his crumbling mental state.
Gyllenhaal hands in a gripping performance that bristles with determination, ranging from brooding, to explosive to resigned. His expressive face fills the screen, and with the exception of some distracting eyebrow acting, carefully guides us down the rabbit hole of Baylor’s anxiety.
“The Guilty” is a no-frills thriller that allows the viewer to imagine most of the action, both in Emily’s plight and Baylor’s head. It breathes the same air as movies like the minimalist “Locke” that do a lot with a little.
Reminders of real life were all around us at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. From the digital screenings we watched at home to half empty, socially distanced screenings at venues like The Princess of Wales Theatre. But when my mind wanders back to September 2021, I won’t be thinking of having to show my proof of vaccination or the social distancing in theatres.
What will linger?
The images of Anya Taylor-Joy in “Last Night in Soho,” crooning an a cappella version of the Swingin’ Sixties anthem “Downtown,” and “Dune’s” Stellan Skarsgård doing his best impression of Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now,” come to mind immediately.
Those moments and others like them are the reason the movies exist. They transcend the vagaries of real life, transporting us away from a place where masks, vaccine passports are the reality.
And boy, did we need that this year.
Here a look back at some of the moments that made memories at this year’s TIFF:
“Night Raiders,” a drama from Cree-Métis filmmaker Danis Goulet, draws on the historical horrors of the Sixties Scoop and Residential Schools to create an unforgettable, dystopian scenario set in the new future. It effectively paints a somber portrait of totalitarian future, packed with foreboding and danger. The story is fictional but resonates with echoes of the ugly truths of colonization and forced assimilation. Goulet allows the viewer to make the comparisons between the real-life atrocities and the fictional elements of the story. There are no pages of exposition, just evocative images. Show me don’t tell me. The basis in truth of the underlying themes brings the story a weight often missing in the dystopian genre.
I asked Danis Goulet about having many of her characters in Night Raiders speak Cree: “It is everything to me,” she said. “My dad is a Cree language speaker. He grew up speaking Cree. He learned to speak English in school. His parents were Cree speakers. And coming down to my generation, I’m no longer a Cree speaker and there are entire universes, philosophies and poetry and beauty contained in the language. When we think of where our heritage lies, maybe some people think of museums. For me I think it is in the language. I think that richness doesn’t just offer Indigenous people something. I think if others looked closer at what the language tells us about the history of this land, they would be incredibly amazed. My dad has looked at references in the language that talk about the movement of the glaciers, so, foe me to have the Cree language on screen is everything. I’m in my own process. I go to Cree language camp to try and learn back the language and the language gives back in a way that is so healing and incredible. It is one of the greatest gifts in my life. So, the opportunity to put my dad’s first language on the screen, and the language of the Northern Communities where I come from, and my language that I lost, is the best. It’s incredible.”
From Twitter: @RichardCrouse Was just sent this: “Wanted to check and see if you’d be able to either send proof of vaccine OR a negative covid test prior to your interviews with the talent.” I sent my proof in, but added, “Will the talent be providing me with proof of vaccination?” #TIFF21 #fairquestion 4:48 PM · Sep 9, 2021· 8 Retweets 3 Quote Tweets 206 Likes
There is no mention of COVID-19 in the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “The Guilty.” But make no mistake, this is a pandemic movie, A remake of 2018 Danish film “Den skyldige,” it is essentially a one hander, shot on a just a handful of set with strict safety protocols in place. Gyllenhaal, as 911 operator Joe Baylor, may be socially distanced from his castmates, but his performance is anything but distant. Played out in real time, “The Guilty” builds tension as Baylor races against a ticking clock to bring the situation to a safe resolution for Emily. Director Antoine Fuqua amps up the sense of urgency, keeping his camera focused on Gyllenhaal’s feverish performance. The close-ups create a sense of claustrophobia, visually telegraphing Baylor’s feeling of helplessness and his crumbling mental state.
The sound of an audience laughing, applauding, crying, or whatever. Just being an audience. The big venues were socially distanced, and often looked empty to the eye, but when the lights went down and folks reacted to the opening speeches or the films, it didn’t matter. Roy Thomson Hall, with its 2600-person capacity, may have only had 1000 or so people in the seats, but for ninety minutes or two hours they formed a community, kindred souls brought together after a long break, and it was uplifting to hear their reactions.
“Flee” is a rarity, an animated documentary. A mix of personal and modern world history, it is a heartfelt look at the true, hidden story of the harrowing life journey of a gay refugee from Afghanistan. Except for a few minutes here and there of archival news footage, “Flee” uses animation to tell the story but this ain’t the “Looney Tunes.” Rasmussen used the animation to protect Amin’s identity, but like other serious-minded animated films like “Persepolis” and “Waltz with Bashir,” the impressionistic presentation enhances the telling of the tale. The styles of Rasmussen’s animation change to reflect and effectively bring the various stages of Amin’s journey to vivid life. It is suspenseful, heartbreaking and often poetic.
I asked “The Survivor” star Vicky Krieps about working opposite Ben Foster: “The first day I came [on set] I was very intimidated,” she said. “I wouldn’t say scared, but it felt like a wall to me. It began like this. There was no small talk. There was no, ‘How are you?’ He was already in character and it was very clear. I thought, ‘OK, I have to play his wife.’ And then, something really interesting happened. I like having a challenge and this felt like a challenge. So, I needed to find a way [to relate to him] because I knew I was going to be his wife. How do I do that? Imagine it as a wall, but then in the wall there are eyes. I used those eyes and I felt like I could open a window, and inside of those eyes was a horizon where I could go. I liked to say to Ben, ‘And then we would dance.’ Sometimes I wrote to him and said, ‘It was nice dancing today.’”
“Last Night in Soho,” from director Edgar Wright, is a love letter to London’s Swingin’ Sixties by way of Italian Giallo. Surreal and vibrant, and more than a little bit silly, its enjoyable for those with a taste for both Petula Clarke and murder. It begins with verve, painting a picture of a time and place that is irresistible. A mosaic of music, fashion and evocative set decoration, the first hour brings inventive world building and stunning imagery. Wright pulls out all the stops, making visual connections between his film and the movies of the era he’s portraying and even including sixties British icons Rigg, Tushingham and Stamp in the cast.
I asked “Dune” star Rebecca Ferguson why she said reading Frank Herbert’s novel was like doing a crossword puzzle: “Sometimes I wonder what comes out of my mouth,” she said. “My mother and many of my friends sit and do crosswords, but I have never been in that world. There is a way of thinking around it. It’s logical, mathematical. You need to be able to see rhythms. Whatever it is. Reading “Dune” was quite dense and I think for people who are immersed into the world of science fiction, they understand worlds and Catharism and this planet and that planet. It is just another picture, which, not to stupefy myself, I am intelligent enough to understand it, but there is a rhythm. I think it is me highlighting the fact that people who live and breathe science fiction, they get it at another level.”
“Dune,” the latest cinematic take on the Frank Herbert 1965 classic, now playing in theatres, is part one of the planned two-part series. “Dune” is big and beautiful, with plentiful action and a really charismatic performance from Jason Momoa as swordmaster Duncan Idaho. It is unquestionably well made, with thought provoking themes of exploitation of Indigenous peoples, environmentalism and colonialism.
Why did director Antoine Fuqua decide to remake the legendary 1960 western The Magnificent Seven? “I wanted to see Denzel Washington on a horse,” he jokes.
The story of seven men who come together to protect a town from a vicious robber baron looks back further than the 1960 film to the 1954 epic Japanese historical drama Seven Samurai. Often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai provided what Fuqua described as the DNA of his film, but he also noted, “Westerns change with the time we’re in, so we made our film based on the world we are living in.”
To that end he has assembled the most diverse cast for a western ever. In addition to top billed stars Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio the seven magnificent leading actors include South Korean star Lee Byung-hun, the Mexican born Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier, an American actor of Tlingit, Koyukon-Athabascan and Irish descent.
“You can’t do the same thing every era,” says Fuqua. “Westerns change all the time. If we were sticking to just one way of doing something then all westerns would be all white guys looking like John Wayne in a John Ford movie.”
“My idea was, if Denzel walks into a room, the room stops,” he says. “If Clint Eastwood walks into a room, the room stops. Is it because he’s a gunslinger or is it because of the colour of his skin? We’ll let the audience decide.”
When asked if The Magnificent Seven is proof that Hollywood is becoming more diverse the director says, “You have to give the studio credit when they do something like this. This becomes the new definition of what a western is.”
Chris Pratt, who plays gunslinger Josh Faraday says despite the film’s title The Magnificent Seven has more to do with another well known western.
“I don’t know how many movies there are in the world,” he said at the TIFF opening night press conference. “What would you guess, several hundred thousand? Millions? Eventually you just run out of names. If I have a son and name him Chad, is he a remake of somebody else who was named Chad? No. We could have called this The Cowboys or something, but [The Magnificent Seven title] has reach,” he continued, “it gets people engaged. But [this movie] is probably more Wild Bunch than it is [1960’s] The Magnificent Seven. We use the title, we use the story. It’s a bunch of guys. There are seven of us. And we’re all [bleeping] magnificent. We’ve got that going for us, but let that movie be that movie. This is a different movie.”
Star Denzel Washington says he’s never seen the 1960 film. “I didn’t keep away from it,” he says. “I just didn’t know how it would help me. I had never seen it as a kid or whatever. People say, ‘You’re the so and so character,’ I don’t even know who that is. I think it allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do instead of trying to not do what someone else did.”
Why did he sign on? “Well, Antoine asked me. It’s as simple as that. Obviously, it’s a good story and a good script but most importantly it was Antoine.”
Director Antoine Fuqua’s remake of “The Magnificent Seven” literally starts with a bang.
A series of mine explosions echo through Rose Creek, signalling unrest in the tiny mining town. Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) has taken over, terrorizing the town with hired goons. He’s a cruel man who guns down citizens and says to his henchmen, “Leave the bodies where they lie. Let them look at them for a few days.” Bad Bart wants the land but is only will to pay a pittance per parcel. “Those of you who signed the deeds will get your $20,” he sneers. “And those who don’t, God help you.”
The townsfolk are helpless. Bogue has killed a half dozen men and with the sheriff on his payroll will continue to do as he pleases. Fed up and recently widowed, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) turns to hired gun Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) for help. “You don’t need a bounty hunter,” he says, “you need an army.” Despite the massive odds against them Chisolm assembles a rag tag team of killers, gamblers and outlaws—Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier)—to go up against the ruthless robber baron in what promises to be a better than OK gunfight at the corral.
“The Magnificent Seven” is a classic looking western with a modern pace. Fuqua chooses not to mess with the key oater elements. He papers the screen with acres of open land, seven tough men, one or two resilient women and a sea of cowboy hats. He is respectful to the form and doesn’t try to bring the genre into the twenty-first century with frenetic editing—I’m looking at you Timur “Ben-Hur” Bekmambetov—or contemporary language. It’s a western, with all that entails; good vs. evil with some moral ambiguity thrown in for good measure.
Also thrown in for good measure is a heap of star power. Washington is a cool character, quietly deadly. He says cool stuff—“Chisolm, should I know that name?” he’s asked. “You should know it from your obituary,” he replies.—and is the movie’s charismatic center. Chris Pratt’s easy charm gives Washington a run for his money, but this is really Denzel’s movie from top to bottom.
Hawke and D’Onofrio do interesting character work. As the shell-shocked Robicheaux Hawke is equal parts swagger and skittishness while D’Onofrio is practically unrecognizable as the squeaky-voiced Jack Horne.
The remaining member of the seven aren’t given much to do other than pull triggers and nod in agreement to Chisolm’s plans, but they are an interesting bunch nonetheless.
At a little over two hours “The Magnificent Seven” could be leaner and well, maybe not meaner—I would not be surprised if it had the highest body count in a western ever—but tighter. There is a mid-movie sag as the plans for the final shootout are being finalized but the ballet of bullets at the end is epic, if not a little excessive, putting a fitting cap on a story that is slight but entertaining for most of the running time.